A SOLAR farm with the potential to serve up to 16,000 homes annually could be built on land just north of Andover after plans were lodged with the borough council last month.

An application, put together by renewable energy investment firm NextEnergy, was received by Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) on December 20.

It outlines plans to build an 80-hectare facility on land at Hatherden Farm, between Penton Mewsey and Hatherden and around one kilometre north of Andover.

The application’s design and access statement reads: “The proposed solar farm will generate enough renewable energy each year to power approximately 15,845 homes in the area.

“This will make a valuable contribution to the efforts of the borough as well as the country to tackle climate change, noting that the council have declared a climate emergency.”

The initial site area was 109 hectares, the plans note, but this has been brought down to 80 to minmise the impact on nearby footpaths and heritage assets.

By comparison, the solar farm currently at Cowdown Lane, just south of the A303 at Upper Clatford, is approximately 65 hectares.

The land at Hatherden Farm is described as an “appropriate” site for solar development, with “no noteworthy residential amenity impacts as the proposals are low lying and well screened”.

The plans claim that the visual impact of the development has been “minimised and mitigated through careful site selection and screening”, with “no material impact” on the area of outstanding natural beauty.

Vehicles accessing the site, during both construction and operation, will do so by travelling through Andover and Charlton.

In an effort to avoid traffic affecting the Pentons, it is proposed that vehicles will travel from the A303, through Andover on the A343 ring road and though Charlton via Goch Way and Hatherden Road.

Noise and vibration impacts during the “temporary and short” construction phase are “unlikely to be adverse”, and once the development is up and running there are expected to be just two monthly vehicle movements to the site.

The design and access statement adds: “It is considered that the minimal impacts of the proposed solar farm are outweighed by the substantial benefits of the proposals, principally in terms of generating renewable energy, but also with regards to the proposed biodiversity enhancements, socio-economic benefits and economic opportunities associated with the proposals.”

So far the application has received responses from two consultants.

Andover Ramblers agreed with elements of the plans but called for a “significant green corridor” or a new public footpath to be included in the development.

Hampshire County Council’s archaeology team, meanwhile, put forward three archaeological conditions that would need to be added to any planning permission that might be issued.

To view the plans in full go to view-applications.testvalley.gov.uk/online-applications and search using the reference ‘19/03043/FULLN’.